Legitimising Evaluation for Vocational Learning

From Bastard Sibling to Equal Brother

John Guenther, Allan Arnott

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Paper published in ProceedingsResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Within the world of systematic inquiry in the field of education the tacit distinction between research and evaluation has been such that the latter is subsumed by the former. There are a number of reasons for this. First, evaluation generally follows research in acronyms and publications (e.g. National VET Research and Evaluation Program). Second, the unstated assumption in much of the theory and practice literature is that evaluation is aligned with assessment and judgement while research is about the creation of new knowledge. Third, there is sometimes an obfuscated assumption that evaluation looks back at the particular while research looks forward to the general. 

    This paper explores the proposition that evaluation as a discipline within the field of vocational learning in Australia is undervalued, underutilised and misunderstood. This is confirmed by a quick review of Australian conference papers and journal articles in recent years, which reveals relatively few examples of papers based on evaluations. The authors’ experiences are reflected in two case study illustrations from practice that demonstrate how the methodologies and learnings of evaluations can be used in much the same way as research outputs can.

    We argue that while there are distinctions between evaluation and research, as disciplines they may be used for the same purpose (e.g. to improve practice or develop policy), use similar methodologies (e.g. empirical data driven processes), and result in the creation of new knowledge (particular or general). Further, one strength of evaluations is that they benefit from working within programs and are often integrated within a program. The authors contend that the perceived worth of vocational learning evaluations can and should be elevated to the same status as research programs. For this to happen, evaluators need to promote their work more actively and demonstrate the outcomes in terms of new knowledge, improved practice and policy development. 
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationProceedings of AVETRA 14th Annual Conference
    Place of Publicationonline
    PublisherAustralian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA)
    Pages1-11
    Number of pages11
    ISBN (Print)987-0-9805275-3-7
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    EventAustralian Vocational Education and Training Research Association Annual Conference (AVETRA 2011 14th) - Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia
    Duration: 28 Apr 201129 Apr 2011
    Conference number: 2011 (14th)

    Conference

    ConferenceAustralian Vocational Education and Training Research Association Annual Conference (AVETRA 2011 14th)
    Abbreviated titleAVETRA
    CountryAustralia
    CityMelbourne
    Period28/04/1129/04/11

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    Cite this

    Guenther, J., & Arnott, A. (2011). Legitimising Evaluation for Vocational Learning: From Bastard Sibling to Equal Brother. In Proceedings of AVETRA 14th Annual Conference (pp. 1-11). [35] online: Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA).
    Guenther, John ; Arnott, Allan. / Legitimising Evaluation for Vocational Learning : From Bastard Sibling to Equal Brother. Proceedings of AVETRA 14th Annual Conference. online : Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA), 2011. pp. 1-11
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    abstract = "Within the world of systematic inquiry in the field of education the tacit distinction between research and evaluation has been such that the latter is subsumed by the former. There are a number of reasons for this. First, evaluation generally follows research in acronyms and publications (e.g. National VET Research and Evaluation Program). Second, the unstated assumption in much of the theory and practice literature is that evaluation is aligned with assessment and judgement while research is about the creation of new knowledge. Third, there is sometimes an obfuscated assumption that evaluation looks back at the particular while research looks forward to the general. This paper explores the proposition that evaluation as a discipline within the field of vocational learning in Australia is undervalued, underutilised and misunderstood. This is confirmed by a quick review of Australian conference papers and journal articles in recent years, which reveals relatively few examples of papers based on evaluations. The authors’ experiences are reflected in two case study illustrations from practice that demonstrate how the methodologies and learnings of evaluations can be used in much the same way as research outputs can.We argue that while there are distinctions between evaluation and research, as disciplines they may be used for the same purpose (e.g. to improve practice or develop policy), use similar methodologies (e.g. empirical data driven processes), and result in the creation of new knowledge (particular or general). Further, one strength of evaluations is that they benefit from working within programs and are often integrated within a program. The authors contend that the perceived worth of vocational learning evaluations can and should be elevated to the same status as research programs. For this to happen, evaluators need to promote their work more actively and demonstrate the outcomes in terms of new knowledge, improved practice and policy development. ",
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    Guenther, J & Arnott, A 2011, Legitimising Evaluation for Vocational Learning: From Bastard Sibling to Equal Brother. in Proceedings of AVETRA 14th Annual Conference., 35, Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA), online, pp. 1-11, Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association Annual Conference (AVETRA 2011 14th), Melbourne, Australia, 28/04/11.

    Legitimising Evaluation for Vocational Learning : From Bastard Sibling to Equal Brother. / Guenther, John; Arnott, Allan.

    Proceedings of AVETRA 14th Annual Conference. online : Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA), 2011. p. 1-11 35.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Paper published in ProceedingsResearchpeer-review

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    Guenther J, Arnott A. Legitimising Evaluation for Vocational Learning: From Bastard Sibling to Equal Brother. In Proceedings of AVETRA 14th Annual Conference. online: Australian Vocational Education and Training Research Association (AVETRA). 2011. p. 1-11. 35